|Los Angeles, California|
|Channels||Digital: 31 (UHF)|
Virtual: 2 (PSIP)
|Branding||CBS 2 Los Angeles (general)|
CBS 2 LA (secondary)
CBS 2 News (newscasts)
|Owner||CBS Television Stations|
(a subsidiary of ViacomCBS)
(CBS Broadcasting Inc.)
First air date
|May 6, 1948|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|K Columbia Broadcasting System|
(former legal name of CBS)
|HAAT||1,095 m (3,593 ft)|
Public license information
KCBS-TV, virtual channel 2 (UHF digital channel 31), is a CBS owned-and-operated television station licensed to Los Angeles, California, United States, serving as the network's West Coast flagship outlet. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of ViacomCBS, as part of a duopoly with independent station KCAL-TV (channel 9). The two stations share studios at the CBS Studio Center on Radford Avenue in the Studio City section of Los Angeles; KCBS-TV's transmitter is located on the western side of Mount Wilson near Occidental Peak.
Aside from being affiliated with CBS News, since 2017 KCBS-TV has had no connection to KCBS radio (740 AM) in San Francisco. The 2017 sale to Entercom of KCBS radio and KCBS-FM (93.1) in Los Angeles ended almost seven decades of co-ownership among the three stations under CBS.
KCBS-TV is one of the oldest television stations in the world. It was signed on by Don Lee Broadcasting, which owned a chain of radio stations on the Pacific coast, and was first licensed by the Federal Radio Commission (FRC), forerunner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as experimental television station W6XAO in June 1931. The station went on the air on December 23, 1931, and by March 1933 was broadcasting programming one hour each day on Mondays through Saturdays. The station used a mechanical camera, which broadcast only film footage in an 80-line image, but used all-electronic receivers as early as 1932. It went off the air in 1935, and then reappeared using an improved mechanical camera producing a 300-line image in June 1936. By August 1937, W6XAO had programming six days each week, with live programming starting in April 1938.
By 1939, the station used a fully electronic system and the image quality was improved to 441 lines. At the time, an optimistic estimate of the station's viewership was 1,500 people. Many of the receiver sets were built by television hobbyists, though commercially made sets were available in Los Angeles. The station's six-day weekly schedule consisted of live talent on four nights, and films on two nights. By 1942, there were an estimated 400-500 television sets in the Los Angeles area, with Don Lee Broadcasting placing television receivers at the following public places: Wilshire Brown Derby, Kiefer's Pine Knot Drive-In, Vine Street Brown Derby, Griffith Planetarium, Miramar Hotel (Santa Monica), Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and The Town House on Wilshire Boulevard. During World War II, programming was reduced to three hours, every other Monday. The station's frequency was switched from Channel 1 to Channel 2 in March 1946 when the FCC decided to reserve Channel 1 for low-power community television stations, before eliminating it completely. The station was granted a commercial license (the second in California, behind KTLA) as KTSL on May 6, 1948, and was named for Thomas S. Lee, the son of Don Lee. The station became affiliated with the DuMont Television Network later that year. KTSL also launched Peter Potter's Jukebox Jury that year, a musical/quiz series that began to be broadcast nationally during the 1953-1954 season on ABC. Many later well-known entertainers appeared on the program to judge the latest releases from the recording companies.
Don Lee's broadcasting interests were placed for sale in 1950 following the death of Thomas S. Lee. General Tire and Rubber agreed to purchase all of Don Lee's stations, the centerpiece being KHJ radio, but chose to spin-off KTSL to CBS. Subsequently, CBS sold its share in KTTV to the station's majority partner, the Los Angeles Times, and all CBS programming moved to KTSL on January 1, 1951. On October 28, 1951, KTSL changed its callsign to KNXT (presumably meaning "KNX Television") to coincide with CBS' Los Angeles radio outlet, KNX (1070 AM). The station also moved its transmitter from Mount Lee, where it had been based since its experimental days, to Mount Wilson.
On April 2, 1984 at noon, KNXT changed its call letters to the present KCBS-TV. In 1997, it adopted the "CBS2" moniker for its on-air image, following the lead of its sister stations in Chicago and New York City. For a time during the 1980s and 1990s, KNXT/KCBS-TV had several locally produced programs such as 2 on the Town, a local show similar to Evening Magazine and KABC-TV's Eye on L.A., and KidQuiz, a Saturday morning children's game show hosted by longtime weathercaster Maclovio Perez (for a time in the mid-2000s, its sister station KCAL-TV had broadcast a show called 9 on the Town).
On April 21, 2007, KCBS and KCAL moved from the historic CBS Columbia Square in Hollywood to an all-digital facility at the CBS Studio Center in Studio City. With the move, KTLA became the only broadcast station (either in radio or television) in Los Angeles to be based in Hollywood.
KCBS-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 2, and switched to analog nightlight service at 1:10 p.m. on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station moved its digital signal from its pre-transition UHF channel 60, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to UHF channel 43, using PSIP to display KCBS-TV virtual channel as 2 on digital television receivers.
On October 21, 2014, CBS and Weigel Broadcasting announced the launch of a new digital subchannel service called Decades, scheduled to launch on all CBS-owned stations in the second quarter of 2015, including on KCBS-TV on channel 2.2. On September 3, 2018, Decades was replaced on 2.2 by Start TV with Decades moving to Weigel's KAZA-TV.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|2.1||1080i||16:9||KCBS-HD||Main KCBS-TV programming / CBS|
In addition to the CBS network schedule, syndicated programs on KCBS-TV (as of September 2020) include The Drew Barrymore Show, Dr. Phil, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight and Judge Judy, all of which are distributed by corporate cousin CBS Television Distribution.
In 1956, CBS began broadcasting NFL games, and with it, the Los Angeles Rams had their games aired on Channel 2. This alliance would continue through the 1993 season, when Fox took over the rights to broadcast NFC games, which led to KTTV being the new home station for one season in 1994, before the Rams moved to St. Louis. With the Rams' return to Los Angeles in 2016, Channel 2 will air games in which the Rams play host to an AFC opponent, and any cross-flexed games aired by CBS; the station previously aired Rams preseason games from 2016 to 2019, and intermittently in past years during the team's first stay in greater Los Angeles. From 1982 to 1993, Channel 2 also aired all home inter-conference games of the Raiders during their time in Los Angeles including their win in Super Bowl XVIII. The station also gave coverage to Super Bowl XIV, which the Rams were runners-up in, and Super Bowl XXI, both of which were hosted at the Rose Bowl in nearby Pasadena. As the first Super Bowl was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and was televised nationally on both CBS (the exclusive home of the pre-merger NFL at the time) and NBC (the home network of the American Football League), the game was blacked out locally on KNXT and KNBC (channel 4), due to home-game blackout policies that both leagues had at the time (and carried over into the leagues' merger in 1970) that did not allow home games to be shown locally regardless of whether the game was sold out, and this policy also extended to the host city of the Super Bowl game.
In 2017, the station became the unofficial "home" station of the NFL's Chargers franchise, which announced on January 12, 2017, that it had exercised an option to leave its longtime home of San Diego and join the Rams in Los Angeles; the newly relocated and rechristened Los Angeles Chargers are part of the AFC, and therefore most of their games (the vast majority of road games, home games against AFC opponents and select games cross-flexed from Fox) are carried by CBS. Because Los Angeles was previously a secondary market of the Chargers during their time in San Diego, the station was already under requirement to carry the team's road games. KCBS was scheduled to resume carriage of Chargers preseason games starting with the 2020 season, however with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the United States, preseason games across the NFL were cancelled and not re-scheduled. The station previously televised Charger preseason games from 2002 to 2015.
Sports director Jim Hill, a former Charger, was a sportscaster for CBS Sports during his first stint at KNXT/KCBS-TV, from 1976 to 1987. Hill then left to become sports director at KABC-TV, but returned to KCBS-TV in 1992 and has remained sports director at the station since. Other ex-athletes who are also sportscasters for KCBS and KCAL-TV are Eric Dickerson, Jim Everett, James Worthy and Eric Karros.
From 1973 to 1990, the station aired Los Angeles Lakers games via the NBA on CBS; this included eight NBA Finals appearances by the Lakers during their Showtime era, where they came out victorious five times.
KCBS-TV presently broadcasts 30 hours, 25 minutes of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5 hours, 5 minutes each weekday and 2½ hours each on Saturdays and Sundays).
In 1961, KNXT created one of the nation's first "newshours." It began with 45 minutes of local news, The Big News, which featured Jerry Dunphy, along with legendary weatherman Bill Keene and sportscaster Gil Stratton. It aired from 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. weeknights, leading into the then-15-minute-long CBS Evening News, which completed the news hour. Also featured were special assignment reporter Maury Green and "Human Predicament" essayist Ralph Story. The team and format helped make KNXT the top-rated news station in Los Angeles. At times, a quarter of Los Angeles television sets were tuned to The Big News and its late-evening companion, Eleven O'Clock Report, the highest ratings ever for a television newscast in the area. The station eventually added reporters such as Howard Gingold and Saul Helpert, among others, and added news bureaus in Sacramento, San Francisco and Orange County, each with full-time correspondents and camera crews.
The Big News expanded to a full hour in September 1963, leading into the new half-hour-long CBS Evening News. Color broadcasts of The Big News and Eleven O'Clock Report began in August 1966. Eventually, KNXT expanded to 2½ hours of local news programming, as well as a late night newscast. KNBC went head-to-head with KNXT with viewers during the 1960s. However, in the mid-1970s, rival KABC-TV began gaining ground in the local news ratings at KNXT's expense. In 1975, KNXT fired Dunphy (who was quickly hired by KABC) and was replaced by Patrick Emory, who had anchored at then-CBS owned-and-operated station KMOX-TV (now KMOV) in St. Louis. KNXT then adopted a format similar to KABC-TV's Eyewitness News with its "happy talk" between anchors. However, the change went nowhere. Just as most of its fellow CBS-owned stations were dominating their cities' ratings, KNXT rapidly fell into last place.
For most of the period from 1975 to 2006, KNXT/KCBS-TV was not a major competitor in the Los Angeles television ratings among the area's local television newscasts. During the period, Channel 2 had frequently changed newscast titles (from The Big News/Eleven O'Clock Report to Newsroom, then to simply Channel 2 News by 1979) and formats to styles that often became unsuccessful and even controversial. In September 1986, Channel 2 implemented a news-wheel format with each half-hour of news devoted to certain topics and themes (for example, there was entertainment and lifestyle news early on and harder news stories later in the program); this format was heavily panned by critics and audiences alike, and was dropped after only a month.
From 1986 to 1987, KCBS produced a 7 p.m. newscast, airing CBS Evening News immediately beforehand at 6:30 p.m. KCBS was also the last station in the Los Angeles area to offer a local early evening newscast at 6:30 p.m., when its 6 p.m. newscast ran for an hour during that time period; CW affiliate KTLA later launched a newscast in that timeslot in January 2009. KCBS produced late afternoon newscasts at 4 p.m. at various points in time. It was the first in the Southland region with a 4:30 p.m. newscast, that was later expanded to an hour.
The late 1980s and early 1990s brought to KCBS the Action News format, in which the station's newscast adopted a tabloid-style format; the format grated on the news staff, which circulated a memo that resulted in the firing of news director John Lippmann in 1993. Lippmann was heavily criticized by many,[who?] and reportedly had many confrontations with news staff, notably a shoving match between him and anchor Michael Tuck. The station's ratings quickly declined.
CBS management, highly embarrassed at KCBS-TV's subpar performance, responded by bringing in Bill Applegate as general manager. Applegate had previously served as general manager at Chicago sister station WBBM-TV, and was employed at that station as a reporter in the early 1970s. While Applegate had been criticized for making WBBM-TV's newscasts flashier than they had been previously, he set about toning down the format of KCBS-TV's newscasts. One of his strategies involved bringing in popular anchors and reporters from other Los Angeles area stations including Jerry Dunphy, who returned to channel 2 two decades after his earlier firing from the station (Dunphy went on to anchor at KABC-TV and KCAL-TV, both of whom achieved high ratings for their newscasts during each of Dunphy's stints). Also joining Dunphy were colleagues Ann Martin, Dr. George Fischbeck, Paul Dandridge and Mark Coogan from KABC-TV, and Larry Carroll (who worked with Dunphy at KABC and KCAL); two KNBC personalities, Linda Alvarez and consumer reporter David Horowitz also joined the team.
The station's ratings improved, but Applegate eventually became a casualty of CBS' merger with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1996; Applegate had bickered with Westinghouse over the station's syndicated programming not long after he had arrived. Westinghouse executives never forgot this, and Applegate was one of the first executives to be let go. Channel 2's momentum ground to a halt, and it soon dropped into last place. The Action News branding was dropped in early 1997 and the station's newscasts were briefly reverted to Channel 2 News; it was later renamed to the present CBS 2 News. That year, Dunphy returned to KCAL.
KCBS dropped its 4 p.m. newscast in 1998 in favor of the short-lived syndicated talk program The Howie Mandel Show, which was canceled after its first season, then, in 1999, the Women 2 Women public affairs show. After Viacom's purchase of KCAL-TV, KCBS reintroduced the 4 p.m. newscast, but with it now airing exclusively on KCAL.
KCBS-TV began another attempt to get out of the ratings basement at the start of the 21st century. Kent Shocknek, former anchor of KNBC's Today in L.A., joined KCBS to become its morning co-anchor in 2000. The station then hired longtime KABC anchor Harold Greene in 2001 as anchor of its 5 and 11 p.m. newscasts. The following year, Greene was joined by his former partner at KABC, Laura Diaz. In 2004, Paul Magers, longtime anchor at KARE in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, replaced Greene on the 5 and 11 p.m. newscasts, bumping Greene to the 4 and 6 p.m. programs. The 4 p.m. newscast moved to KCAL-TV with the arrival of Dr. Phil on KCBS in September 2004. At the beginning of 2005, longtime KABC weatherman Johnny Mountain moved to KCBS, surprising many. At first, it seemed that none of these changes brought KCBS any closer to becoming a factor in the Los Angeles news ratings. However, in April 2006, KCBS grabbed the No. 2 spot at 5 p.m. from KABC due to a strong lead-in from Dr. Phil. KCBS shot past both KABC and KNBC to take first place at 11 p.m. for the first time in 30 years.
The 2007 move to Studio City marked many changes at KCBS and KCAL-TV, with several news personalities having departed, including David Jackson (who returned to the duopoly after anchoring at KCAL in the early 1990s), Kerry Kilbride, reporter Jay Jackson, Paul Dandridge, Dilva Henry, Linda Alvarez, sports anchor Alan Massengale and Dave Clark (who left for KTVU in Oakland). Both stations also began broadcasting all their local newscasts, sports shows and public affairs programming in high definition, becoming the third and fourth stations in Los Angeles to do so (following KABC-TV in February 2006 and KTLA in January 2007). In addition, KCBS and KCAL-TV now operate in a completely tapeless newsroom. This newsroom is named in honor of the late former anchor of both stations, Jerry Dunphy. The Dunphy Newsroom is also shared with CBS News, operating as its Los Angeles/West Coast bureau.
On April 1, 2008, the CBS Television Stations division enacted some of the biggest budget cuts in television history, as well as staff layoffs across all of its stations. As a result of the cuts, roughly 10 to 15 staffers were released by KCBS/KCAL. The 6 p.m. anchors Harold Greene and Ann Martin, who both also anchored KCAL-TV's 4 p.m. newscast, chose to retire from television news (Greene and Martin were slated to have their contracts expire in June of that year and were both considered for layoffs). Additionally, longtime KCBS reporter Jennifer Sabih, and reporters Greg Phillips and Jennifer Davis, were let go by the station.
On September 19, 2009, KCBS and KCAL adopted the uniform NewsCentral brand (unrelated to the news organization of the same name formerly operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group). The newscasts were refocused to cover more community news, including stories from outlying communities. Local news headlines from the Los Angeles Newspaper Group and other MediaNews Group newspapers were shown on a news ticker, "street team" submissions of video and photos from viewers were featured, reporters ended stories with NewsCentral rather than the individual station brands, and microphone flags and news vehicles were branded to show both stations' logos at once (the KCBS and KCAL logos were previously displayed on alternating sides). The newscasts claimed that it produced more local news than any other television station in the United States, with reporters in Ventura County, the Inland Empire and Orange County, and the only Los Angeles television station with two helicopters (subcontracted to Angel City Air, owned by reporter Larry Welk). Ed Asner introduced the new newscast. CBS denied that the move was made in response to other stations pooling news gathering resources.
Ratings under the new format during the November 2009 sweeps showed KCBS lagging behind KABC-TV and KNBC in crucial timeslots. On December 10, 2009, Patrick McClenehan resigned after one year as president of KCBS/KCAL and was replaced by Steve Mauldin, who had overseen the CBS-owned duopoly in Dallas-Fort Worth. That week, the NewsCentral brand was rescinded, restoring the CBS 2 News and KCAL 9 News identities. The NewsCentral graphics, microphone flags and logos were retained in the interim, though on-air talent no longer referred to the NewsCentral brand.
By spring 2010, the new management had made significant changes to KCBS' news operation. Veteran forecaster Johnny Mountain retired and was replaced by sister KCAL's Jackie Johnson; joining anchor Paul Magers on the lead newscasts was KCAL veteran Pat Harvey. The morning broadcast was also revamped, and the newly renamed CBS 2 News was given new graphic design and theme music by Frank Gari based on the longstanding ten-note logo originally written by Dick Marx and previously used by KCBS on-and-off since the 1970s.
On January 14, 2012, KCBS (and sister KCAL) began broadcasting morning newscasts on weekends, that compete with those offered by KABC-TV, KNBC and KTLA. The station was one of the last major-market CBS-owned affiliates to schedule local news broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
In June 2019, CBS News launched a Los Angeles version of its CBSN online news network, featuring exclusive programming to the channel, as well as simulcasts of all KCBS and KCAL newscasts, and selected CBSN programs. This is the second cable/streaming news channel targeted to the Los Angeles area currently in operation, besides the cable-based Spectrum News 1 Southern California, which launched in November 2018. The Los Angeles television market's first cable news network was the Orange County Newschannel, which was in operation from 1990 to 2001, although it was only available and specifically targeted to cable viewers within that county; in OCN's final years, KCBS was a news partner with the channel, with OCN reporters and stories featured on various KCBS newscasts, including a headlines segment on Channel 2's morning newscasts.
KCBS is rebroadcast on the following translator stations: